Savitri Era of those who adore, Om Sri Aurobindo and The Mother.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Hundreds of communities who do not share the mainstream core culture

DALIT- AS A POSTMODERN CULTURAL PHENOMENON

Now it is a well-known fact that the post-structural and postmodern theories paved the way for developing analytical tools to look into the cultural constitutions of the oppressed and marginalized communities. Even before the advent of post-structural theories Frantz Fanon (1925-1961), the Algerian revolutionary and psychiatrist wrote from the perspective of a colonial subject. His writings had asserted the need to formulate culture based resistance to overcome the colonial hegemony. He placed the cultural (including literary) aspect of colonial and post-colonial history at the center of his discussions. His two books, The Wretched of the Earth and Black Skin, White Masks? opened up an enquiry into the culture based politics with emphasis upon local and marginalized cultures. Marxism conceived human identity as the ensemble of social relations. Accordingly it is the class relation, which in the ultimate analysis determines the identity of the individual. In this sense human being in every part of the world regardless of his caste and religion exhibits the same kind of identity under capitalist system. Indeed the economic exploitation is more or less same everywhere and human beings in general share the hardship of alienation in almost all parts of the world. At the same time colonialism has paved the way for western hegemony in the realm of culture. It was the experience of the cultural contradiction between the white centred western way of life and the black centred African way of life which persuaded Fanon to formulate a culture based resistance.

Fanon explains the formation of colonial subjectivity and thereby the rising up of the anti-colonial resistance. Before Marx philosophers explained   human identity as mere transcendental phenomenon. Marxian interpretation of history helped to wipeout   the mystification inherent in the philosophical explanation regarding human identity. Accordingly human essence was explained as the ensemble of productive relations. In this sense it was the class relation, which in the ultimate analysis shapes the human individuality. However the collapse of
Soviet Union and the developments thereafter leads one to enquire further into the question of identity because we are bound to see the different factors which shape the individual identity. It does not mean that we can ignore the economic factor, which plays a dominant role in the formation of identity. Indeed the structural and post-structural developments in philosophy have created an atmosphere conducive to slightly stretch the Marxian interpretation as Fanon suggested to develop an effective mode of interpreting human identity. According to Fanon an intellectual living under colonialism passes through three stages. […]

Even after independence the ruling ideology continued to dominate the minds of the citizens in the form of a savarna consciousness. Our media even coined the term ‘national Muslim’. Our intellectuals failed to ask why don’t we refer a Hindu as national/non-national Muslim where as he or she is treated in such a way when belongs to Muslim by birth. Hence the construction of Muslim as the cultural other was used even as a disguise to liquidate the Dalit and other non-savarna communities. We find the culmination of the same practice in the Gujarat genocide.

Dr. Ambedkar on the one hand followed the logic of Western modernity and on the other hand converted to Budhism to escape the caste menace. With respect to the period in which he waged the war it was praiseworthy and deserves much attention. It is noteworthy that it was the period when Gandhi spoke for the untouchables with Bhagavad-Gita in his hand. This type of contradiction was everywhere because the tradition haunted the intellectuals, writers and activists in the form of dominant ideology. Not only Arya Samaj and Brahma Samaj but also the very national movement represented by Indian National Congress could not address the differences with in the so-called Indian identity. The organic intellectuals belonging to non-savarna communities failed to go back to their own memories to establish their identity. Like any other society they argued for change either following the paradigm of the West or the mainstream national tradition, which was Brahminical or savarna. To a great extent Dr.Ambedkar was exceptional for he identified Budhism as the alternative. But he also could not put forth a Dalit alternative.

In the newly evolved situation the Dalit and Non-Savarna intellectuals have started to realize their identity and began to question the hegemonic ideology of the caste-based hierarchy created as a part of the Indian feudalism. Even after the formation of industrial capital in
India the ideological apparatuses used to assimilate the individuals and even intellectuals into the caste based tradition. The traditional intellectuals as well as organic intellectuals asserted the core culture as the tradition. In philosophy Dr.S.Radhakrishnan started this venture by way of interpreting the Hindu way of life. (Even our supreme court could resort to Radhakrishnan’s interpretation in order to justify the politics of Hindutva in the verdict) At this juncture it is necessary to put forth the identities of hundreds of communities who do not share the mainstream core culture. Not only scheduled castes and scheduled tribes of India but all other communities who share the non-Brahminic culture should come together and redeem their literature, which is on the brim of disappearance. Kancha Ilaiah shows the way in which a Dalit should come forth. In his article, ‘Productive Labour, Consciousness and History: The Dalitbahujan Alternative’, Ilaih says;

“I therefore feel quite strongly that the time has come when we must make our statement as to what we really are and how we really differ from them. Not as different in the way they have shown us to be; meek, merit less, unskilled, foolish, ‘others’. We differ from them because we are skilled producers, productive-instrument makers, and creative builders of the material basis of the society. We must also show that today we are determined to prove that Hinduism and Brahminism represent the world views of the atrocious ‘others’ who have been parasites and whose role has never been positive and constructive.” 

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